I had been blessed with having a number of dogs share my life.

There was Pepper, a small mixed breed, who had followed me home after much encouragement and was returned to his owner the next day.

There was Paladin, a black and white miniature collie, who suffered from epilepsy and had to be put down.

There was Sandy, a cocker spaniel, who became my closest friend, companion and confidant.  He was with me a couple of years.  Sandy was as the saying goes, “as dumb as a box of rocks”, but we loved each other.  I can still remember his scent as i hugged him and cried into his fur.  Unfortunately, Sandy was also a chicken thief and murderer which is why I found him dead on our front porch obviously poisoned.

Star was the dog of my adult family.  She was a cross between an Irish Setter and a Golden Retriever.  She was supposed to be my son’s dog; but you know how that goes.  She became the dog of my wife and I.  Among her credits are:  she ate a sofa down to the wood frame, in chasing a squirrel she broke a number nine wire with her chest, she caught possum, chipmunk, groundhog.  She had two crowning achievements though.  during a picnic celebrating our son’s baptism party with the grandparents and neighbors she brought to the table, one at a time, a half eaten mother rabbit and four of her babies.  The other was hypnotiizing birds to catch them. We watched her lie very still and gently tap her front paws on at a time on the ground.  The birds would walk right up between her paws and she would catch them.

As she aged, she developed arthritis in her back.  I had an auto accident because of which i had a debilitating back injury.  We walked together; it was more like we hobbled along together both realizing that if we didn’t keep moving we wouldn’t be able to move at all.  Her spine finally collapsed and the vet was kind enough to put her down in her home with her head cradled in my wifes lap.  She went peacefully with those that she loved and who loved her.

It took us ten years to be ready to bring another dog into our lives.

My wife was complaining that she missed having a dog to welcome her unconditionally when she came home from work.  I offered to lick her face; but I could not get my tail to wag, try as i might.

So, what kind of dog?  I was a huge fan of John Steinbeck and had read his autobiographical  travelogue, Travels With Charlie.  Steinbeck had decided, in his later years, to revisit all the places that he had lived and write about how the country had changed.  His traveling companion on this journey was a black standard poodle named “Charlie”, short for Charlemagne.  I loved the traits exhibited by Charlie on this adventure and with research found that these traits were characteristic of the breed.  They were one of the brightest breeds, active, friendly, family oriented, great hunters, and protective.

Next came the search for a standard poodle.

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